For some obscure reason, we had mentally made the Michelin LTX the underdog in the group of hauler tires tested this time. Maybe it was the unusually soft sidewalls, or perhaps because the tread is more aggressive than the others and consequently shouldn't roll as efficiently, and could pick up rocks? What were we thinking? For heaven's sake, Michelin put radial tires on the map and certainly knows how to build them. We were sort of right about the rocks sticking in the tread, though. And in case you didn't know, Bibendum is the real name of the Michelin man.
The LTX A/T2 started convincing us as soon as we mounted them on a set of Eagle Alloys 16x8s and the beads seated with a resounding bang. With a below-average usage of 3M Wheel Weight System weights, especially for a heavy 33-inch tire, the worst one showed only 0.017 inch of deviation on the Hunter GSP 9700 balancer. Still, it was more than we had hoped for from such a renowned brand, particularly as each tire also showed a wee bit of wobble on the balancer. In all fairness, such things can result from storage, freight, and other issues beyond the manufacturer's control, and didn't affect the ride quality or performance one bit.
Once on the vehicle, the LTXs again put our impressions to the test. The notes included "floatier than others" and "sideways cushy," which made sense with the pliable sidewall, and using rims on the narrow end of the spectrum, but also that the ride was a tad harsher than expected, rolling resistance higher than the others in the group, and there were hints of tracking. Well, between the tires getting broken in and later getting away from unusually low temperatures (which affected the drivetrain), the A/T2 was right up there with the others in free-rolling qualities, plus it was quiet-comparable to the less-aggressive towing tires in the group. As far as the floating feeling we first experienced, it took only a day to get used to the sensation, but running this size LTX on a 9-inch-wide rim would add sidewall stability, eliminating the feeling altogether, and help with cornering, especially on a high-profile vehicle. With a durometer reading of approximately 70, the tread is significantly harder than what the sidewalls feel like, and promises a long and hopefully happy tread life-just what Michelins are known for.
In The Dirt
Whatever doubts we may have had left about the Michelin LTX quickly vanished once leaving the pavement as the A/T2 was the most capable of the hauler-type tires tested this time. Of course, it also had the most aggressive tread in the group-if you can call the LTX's pattern aggressive, but compared to the Duravis 500 HD, for example, it actually is. A bit of tread arch, combined with the A/T2's tread design, managed to take us up slopes and enabled restarts on steep trails where some other tires had struggled a bit, or even nearly failed. Needless to say, we did worry a bit about those soft sidewalls but never did experience any problems, sidewall-related or otherwise. And, yes, some small rocks did indeed follow us back out on the pavement every day before getting dispatched by centrifugal force. So much for those perceived ideas.
If you need a bit more trail traction from your hauler's tires and could use some 15,000 pounds of carrying capacity on the road, as offered by the 285/75R16 size, by all means, take a hard look at the Michelin LTX A/T2.
Tire: Michelin LTX A/T2
Load range: E
Max load (lb @ psi): 3,750 @ 80
Sidewall plies: 2-ply polyester
Tread plies: 2-ply polyester, 3-ply steel
Approved rim width (in): 7.5-9 (8)
Tread depth (in): 17.5/32
Tread width (in): N/A
Section width (in): 11.26
Overall diameter (in): 32.83
Static loaded radius: N/A
Revolutions per mile: 634
Weight (lb): 59
Test vehicle: 6,300-pound K-5 Blazer